Almost a year after its presentation to the public, we took the Leica SL2-S, the German hybrid, back into our hands to put it to the test again. This time we focused more on the video aspects, but with the help of max&douglas we have not disdained some other photographs.
Last January I tried and appreciated the latest full-frame mirrorless born in Wetlzar, unfortunately without having the time to delve into the video aspects. And that's why as soon as the opportunity arose, we didn't let it slip away. Because Leica SL2-S is a dual-soul camera, a mirrorless camera that can give great satisfaction to both photographers and videomakers.
I will not dwell much on specifics and technical details since I had already addressed them in the first test of this camera, but a brief summary of what it offers is a must. In particular, what is always important to remember when talking about Leica is the care with which all the products of this historic company are made. To begin with, these are handmade products, assembled piece by piece and which can boast a choice of excellent materials. This is also one of the reasons why the products with the red dot have a price that is often considered very high, but certainly justified precisely for the reasons just mentioned. However, I also want to underline that direct competition today is no longer so distant in terms of price, so an SL2-S could be a very interesting option for photographers and videomakers.
Leica SL2-S is built around a 24 million pixel full-frame CMOS sensor, alongside which the Maestro III processor and a 225-point contrast-detection autofocus system work. The sensitivity range expands from ISO 100 to 100.000, while the 5-axis stabilization system is capable of providing compensation up to 5.5 stops.
Leica SL2-S: video features
As anticipated in this new review of Leica SL2-S, the video aspect will take precedence over the photographic one. So let's see the video features in detail. Videomakers who choose Leica SL2-S will be able to count on a file video 4K fino a 60fps and on the possibility of unlimited registration. The latter obviously depends on the capacity of the memory card.
Getting into video with this camera is very easy, because Leica has created the perfect menu. Such as? To begin with because it is very clear and simple, but above all because on the Leica SL2-S we find two separate menus for photos and videos. This aspect is really convenient, you will find all the options grouped together, being able to choose format, framerate, codec and much more in a few moments.
More specifically, you can shoot in DCI and UHD format in 4K at 60 and 50 fps with a crop in Super35. In addition, it is possible to record internally in 4-bit 2: 0: 8 format or, using an external recorder via HDMI, in 4-bit 2: 2: 10. Reducing the fps is also available 10-bit 4: 2: 2 full-frame recording, with an oversampling. We are talking about a sensor that has a surface equal to 6K, so the quality is still high.
There is also support for the Leica LOG and the HLG format to be able to count on HDR shooting. Some LUTs are already integrated as well.
Also from a design point of view the Leica SL2-S stands out from the crowd. I had already said it in the photographic test, but also for videomakers the situation is the same. Essentiality is the key of the German company, which does not lead the user to be distracted during use. Perhaps in the video field, some more options could be appreciated, but it is certainly a matter of habit and feeling with the medium. Once you have become familiar with the menu, it will also be a pleasure to use, because once again the simplicity and clean graphics are a help for those who have this Leica SL2-S in their hands. inside. All thanks to a very reactive and precise touchscreen panel.
For videomakers who work on the go and who need an agile and light body, the grip and the viewfinder are excellent allies. Thus, as for this aspect it is essential to underline the excellent performance of the stabilization system. It is possible to work freehand with some peace of mind.
Field test with the Leica SL2-S
Let's get to the point now, how does it behave in practice? The first thing that catches the eye when looking at the videos shot with the Leica SL2-S is the “pasta”, recognizable and very cinematic. But not only that, in fact, there is one color rendering that is very natural, thanks to the 10-bit depth that offer many shades, especially in reds and greens. Quality that we find even in low light conditions, where the presence of noise begins to be noticed only from ISO 6400 upwards. Basically we can record at ISO 3200 without any worries.
The integrated Cinema mode immediately brings you into a truly cinematic context, intervening the right on the color profile and giving that feeling that we do not have with the "standard" mode. Really well done.
Speaking of performance, what Leica can still improve is the autofocus system, which is certainly not the most responsive around. But it is precisely to look for the needle in the haystack.
I had anticipated it, although in these lines we wanted to deepen above all the video aspects, even our max & douglas wanted to try this Leica. And after getting used to the quality of the Leica SL2 it was interesting for them to get involved with a camera that clearly winks at a more hybrid user than its older sister. But at Leica when it comes to photography we talk about quality and even if we are in front of a mirrorless camera with half the resolution compared to the flagship of the SL series, the results have been truly excellent.
It is no coincidence, in fact, that after having tried it on the streets of Milan they have found many traits in common with SL2. Obviously from a design and use point of view, but despite some limitations in the reproduction of the smallest details of a scene, they also found the same "paste" on the SL2-S, the same RAW quality that allows you to recover a lot both in the shadows. than in the highlights. And here's the proof:
Leica SL2-S: the conclusions
The best definition to describe this mirrorless is undoubtedly “camera with a double soul”, because both in the photographic and video fields it does its job very well. It is difficult to make real comparisons with the competition, because the Leica iconicity can be felt during use and can be seen in the results and it is therefore as if it were doing a separate race. But only by using it can this speech be fully understood.
Without forgetting another fundamental aspect for the German company, namely the long life guaranteed by the devices with the red dot. As witnessed with other models in the past, buying a Leica means choosing a camera that will give us joy for many years. The German engineers, in fact, have always managed to create products that can be updated without problems for many years, thanks to a much more powerful hardware than what is really needed at the moment. This has in fact allowed the previous models to update to almost become completely different cameras from those they were at the time of birth.
For this reason, spending the over € 4500 requested makes sense considering it as a long-term investment. And by the way, this is the right time to switch to Leica, because a very advantageous promotion is underway to buy Leica SL2 or SL2-S.